Everyone Won't Succeed. And That's Okay!
Not everyone succeeds in the realm of higher education. This is not necessarily a bad thing because our society still needs people whose occupations do not require any college education. Some people stumble in the race to success due to a lack of effort, whereas other individuals seem to have the odds perpetually stacked against them.
Everyone is capable of academic success, but some people arrive at the table better prepared than others.
The controversial truth is that not all people will succeed in school, no matter how badly some individuals may want it. And, in my opinion, this is perfectly okay. For instance, if everyone in our society becomes a surgeon, then the prestige and excellent pay that characterize this occupation would drop. It's the same story with nursing: if all 200 million+ adults in the United States had chosen to become nurses, then the status and solid middle-income pay associated with nursing would plummet.
We actually need ditch diggers, convenience store clerks, janitors, sanitation workers and other types of employees whose positions do not require education and training at the collegiate level. These workers are absolutely vital to our economy and I don't know what we'd do without them.
In addition, many young adults are being stirred toward college with a lack of direction when they would thrive better in a focused apprenticeship or trade school environment. Most of us have used the services of plumbers, mechanics, electricians and HVAC technicians. Workers in these fields earn decent money, too.
Moreover, parental stimulation and social class can be major influences in a person's success or failure in the realm of higher education. For example, a 12-year-old boy named Ernie wants to be a doctor someday. Ernie is being brought up in a poor household where his parents live from paycheck to paycheck. His mother is a seamstress who barely graduated from high school, reads at a 6th grade level, and does not know how to do math beyond basic arithmetic. His father is an illiterate short order cook who knows basic arithmetic and dropped out of school in the 9th grade.
Even though Ernie has four younger siblings, there are no books anywhere in their cramped apartment, and his parents are unable to assist with their children's homework assignments because they do not always understand the work their kids bring home. Financial stress exists in the household, and sometimes the electricity is disconnected for weeks at a time due to non-payment.
Ernie's parents have experienced nothing but personal failures with the educational system, and they do not discuss school with any of their kids. The parents are present-oriented, live in survival mode, remain totally focused on the 'here and now,' and do not ever discuss occasions that might dot their children's futures such as career planning and possible college attendance.
Most of us are cognizant that a future doctor must have a remarkably solid background in science and math, combined with exceptional reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. Ernie's parents were not able to inculcate any of these things into him at home. Moreover, even the best teachers in the public school system can do only so much with unprepared students. No matter how passionately Ernie wants to be a doctor, the cumulative effects of his disadvantaged background are helping to obstruct his ambitious dreams. If he fails to become a doctor, too many people would be quick to blame his personal failings when greater forces were working against him since birth.
People need to be oriented toward education well before they reach those formative preschool years. A disadvantaged child enters the school system with a diminished vocabulary, academic skills that are not up to par, and more distractions in the household than their more advantaged classmates. In other words, some individuals start horribly behind in the trek to success.Last edit by Joe V on Dec 18, '14
About TheCommuter, BSN, RN Senior Moderator
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.
TheCommuter has '11' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych'. From 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'; 36 Years Old; Joined Feb '05; Posts: 37,604; Likes: 67,821.Dec 5, '13This was very nice to read. It's sad how our circumstances lead us to settle instead of thrive.Dec 5, '13The Head Start Program is doing a wonderful job in helping disadvantaged preschool children get the support and stimulation they need to be successful in today's highly competitive academic world.Dec 5, '13Success is subjective. I consider anyone who is living a happy and productive life to be their own success story.Dec 5, '13Success does not necessarily have to be academic. I would say I am an "Ernie" and although my parents were not well educated and struggled financially, I learned that I did not want the same life and I chose to study hard in school. Many kids born with a silver spoon in their mouths do not choose to "succeed" academically either and they have all the advantages in the world. I think it is a mix of nature vs nurture when it comes to academic success and it comes down to an individual choosing to do well in school. If it is important to them, a person will do well. I have also gone to school with other disadvantaged individuals who were made fun of in elementary school for being "dumb" and who later chose to study hard and rise to the top of the class.Dec 5, '13While you point out the obvious hurdles that Ernie would have to overcome in life, these hurdles do not relegate him to a life of poverty. There are plenty of Ernie's out there who came from humble beginning and who have moved on to be great "successes" in life. For this reason, this article bothered me. You have essentially said that because Ernie came from an undesirable situation he has no change in life to reach his dreams. Have you not heard of mentoring programs, or Head Start as one reader mentioned? There are plenty of outside influences who can make up for the lack of educational interest in the home. True, it will be that much harder for Ernie but its not impossible. And the sooner people stop judging and expecting failure the better off the Ernie's of this world will be.Dec 5, '13While there may be many disadvantages these can be overcome if a person loves learning and reading. Reading can open a whole universe of knowledge and the world to a person. Even if poor, if they make use of a public library they can succeed! Motivation and desire can go along way to reaching your dreams and if you are fortunate enough to have an excellent teachor or mentor that encourages you to succeed even better!
In the end, the main obstacle is money and the person would end up taking out a lot of student loans in the process of college and medical school. Most people esp poor and middle class end up taking out student loans, few actually get scholarships or grants that are more than token at best! I even had a family member whose family was living on only 12,000 a year and now had lost that job and when the govt was happy to put her back to school in her 50's for vocational training at the community college/tech she didn't get grants, only loans! I was pretty shocked that someone that poor would be forced into loans. Guess what she graduated with very good grades, but living in a rural area never was able to find a job. Now living on a very dismal social security check she is paying back those loans. She can't afford those loans, was without health insurance till Medicare and her children were helping to pay for her oxygen. Honestly, she most likely wasn't healthy enough to work in the first place! Fortunately her children had jobs and were able to help support her.
The ideal school system would offer a range of learning from practical, hands on skilled trades to pre-college math, science, and literature, but don't forget personal finance. Personal finance is an essential need no matter what a child's plan's for the future are! Aside from poor wages, lack of personal finance, keeps many people poorer than they need to be as the banks, Sallie Mae, etc are happy to take advantage of their lack of knowledge for their own excessive profit!
Also I think it is possible and perhaps beneficial to take both pre-college coursework along with a skilled trade if offered. It would give a person choices and a way to make a living whether they went to college or not and while they were in college if they chose! Skilled vocational training can be a plus and more children should have that opportunity since we know there are not enough true professional jobs for all the people that are going to college. Many are ending up paying for skilled vocational training after college just to get a decent paying job in the end! Why not save people the excess college debt in the first place, give them some vocational training first for free in high school and then let them decide if college is worth the gamble! Instead we push everyone into college and then leave them to realize they can't get a job so they end up going back to school for training whether as a nurse or many of the other skilled trades offered by community colleges, all the while these unfortunate people are racking up even more student loan debt!Dec 5, '13Quote from sunnybabeSettling is a personal choice, not a punishment. You can choose to settle or to overcome.This was very nice to read. It's sad how our circumstances lead us to settle instead of thrive.Dec 5, '13Quote from jaykalkynThe people who emerge from the truly impoverished parts of our society to become financially and academically successful are such a tiny percentage that they can safely be called the exception that proves the rule.While you point out the obvious hurdles that Ernie would have to overcome in life, these hurdles do not relegate him to a life of poverty. There are plenty of Ernie's out there who came from humble beginning and who have moved on to be great "successes" in life. For this reason, this article bothered me. You have essentially said that because Ernie came from an undesirable situation he has no change in life to reach his dreams. Have you not heard of mentoring programs, or Head Start as one reader mentioned? There are plenty of outside influences who can make up for the lack of educational interest in the home. True, it will be that much harder for Ernie but its not impossible. And the sooner people stop judging and expecting failure the better off the Ernie's of this world will be.
We live in a society. And every society since the beginning of time has economic classes. The wealthy elite among these classes has an obvious interest in maintaining this status quo. Our society is no different. Why do you think the poor more or less remain poor generation after generation, while the rich remain rich?
It's clearly offensive to suggest that the poor who fail to rise above their station fail to do so because they lack "gumption", or whatever. Yet this is exactly what one suggests when one implies that we "all" have equal opportunity to become doctors, lawyers, etc. It is not a coincidence that the vast majority of doctors come from, at least, an upper-middle class background, while the "Ernies" of America gravitate toward less glamorous careers.
Not only does Ernie have "hurdles" to overcome in his quest to become a doctor, there are also so many parts of society that, by design or not, will simply prevent someone from Ernie's background from ever doing so.
Since we're talking about education, let's take a look at our school system. Schools are funded by local property taxes. Kids born in the posh suburbs attend, from the start, the best funded, staffed and supplied schools in the country. These are the kids who get their own ipads, the smallest classrooms and the highest paid, most educated teachers. Kids in working class suburbs will attend lees spectacular, but still decent, schools. Kids born in inner city Detroit have almost zero local property tax revenue for their schools, so they get to attend broken down, glorified daycare centers where making it out alive without getting shot or stabbed is a "win".
And you're gonna tell me that if Ernie in inner city Detroit would only reach for the stars, and want his dreams bad enough, then "outside influences" would be enough to make him a doctor?
To simply survive and stay out of prison in places like Detroit or inner city LA or whatever requires an incredible amount of intelligence, wit and resourcefulness. The kids who do so are already successful in life, even if they're high school dropouts. Their staying alive took a heck of a lot more effort and presence of mind than the rich kid who went to medical school could ever dream of.Dec 5, '13Quote from BrandonLPNWhile I would generally agree with you, money also doesn't guarantee an easy life. Not by a long shot. It can ease one's way in life in some aspects, but it certainly is no solution to all of life's trials.To simply survive and stay out of prison in places like Detroit or inner city LA or whatever requires an incredible amount of intelligence, wit and resourcefulness. The kids who do so are already successful in life, even if they're high school dropouts. Their staying alive took a heck of a lot more effort and presence of mind than the rich kid who went to medical school could ever dream of.
The source of struggle for any human being can be either internal or external. So sure, perhaps Joe Smith is a strong student who hopes to be a doctor. He comes from family money that's been going strong since his great-great-great-great-great grandfather hopped off the boat in Colonial Virginia, but he also battles clinical depression and the resulting suicidal tendencies on a daily basis.
On the other end of the spectrum, consider Andy Jones, born in inner city Detroit, who struggles to survive the violence, drugs, poverty and poor lifestyle choices of those around him.
Both kids are dealing with circumstances that are essentially out of their control. It's just a matter of
stigma versus stereotypes--Andy will forever have a stereotype lingering over his head based on where he was born and how he was raised. Joe will forever be fighting the stigma of mental illness and the very real consequences that come with a psychological disorder.
Let's say that both boys get into medical school. Joe and Andy become friends, despite their vastly different background. Both of them fought hard against the odds that threatened to keep them from attending medical school. But for Joe, because his struggle was internal, it will frequently be minimized and considered less "real" than Andy's struggle, because Andy's struggle was with external forces that can be measured and documented.
The problem is, Joe's issue is not one that other people can see or really understand. Andy's life, however, is one where the locus of control is outside of himself. People understand violence, guns, absentee parenting, drugs, poverty, poor school systems, and other factors that will surely play a part in his life. People don't really understand or feel comfortable with psychological illness. But the fact remains that neither of the boys asked for what they got.
While Joe may seem better off, how can one say objectively that Joe, who fights daily not to kill himself, is any better off than Andy, who fights daily not to be killed?
Or, what if Joe wasn't depressed, but the locus of control was also external? After all, money doesn't guarantee that his mother isn't a functioning alcoholic, his dad doesn't abuse him behind closed doors, or that he isn't exposed to similar levels of violence as Andy. Money simply makes it easier for those who would perpetrate such acts to cover them up.
I'm certainly not drawing conclusions on this one. It's just an idea that hit me as I read some responses and thus, food for thought.Dec 5, '13Gee, I thought this would be a thread about how some students really can't cut it and it really is ok if they leave nursing school. Because they really won't succeed, and not everyone has to.Dec 5, '13Quote from GrnTeaAfter a recent monster thread where a failing student couldn't take the advice of probably 20 well-meaning posters, that's what I thought, too.Gee, I thought this would be a thread about how some students really can't cut it and it really is ok if they leave nursing school. Because they really won't succeed, and not everyone has to.
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